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Nurturing Hearts & Noggins

Promoting academic, social, and emotional learning for lifelong success
Social and Emotional Learning

Black History throughout the Year

Although February is the designated month that Black History is commemorated, it does not have to be confined to this time of the year.  Feel free to carve out various times during the school year to explore Black history and culture, including art, literature, and music.  Exploring Black history is a wonderful way to nurture hearts and noggins by opening the mind of a child to embrace an importan...

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The Great Kindness Challenge

British writer, Henry James once said, "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." Well, this week thousands of students across the country are taking this to heart. They are participating in an amazing opportunity to be 'difference makers,' as they have accepted "The Great Kindness Challenge." The challenge allows...

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Mentoring: A Great Way to Nurture Hearts and Noggins

Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race – in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate, in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words, that 'we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny....

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Is Emotional Intelligence the Key to Behavior Modification?

Understanding Emotional Intelligence is still a very popular topic of conversation.  Since the 2006 release of Daniel Goleman's groundbreaking work, Emotional Intelligence , parents, child care providers, and teachers alike have been fascinated by what it reveals about behavior, rational and emotional thinking, health and well-being, relationships, leadership, and lifelong success. ...

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No Voice Left Behind

With the onset of recent and on-going protests and marches for civil rights and justice, it is clear how imperative it is for individuals to be heard and feel that they matter. This desire has resonated with many as they have mobilized in unity to have their voices heard. Students in the classroom are not too different. They want to be heard and feel that they matter. Perhaps we can all recall...

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Giving Thanks and Paying It Forward

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let's revisit ways that we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude and giving. As this year winds down, and we reflect on our successes, near-successes, lessons learned, and the overall busyness of our lives, it's important to take time to reflect on all that we are grateful for. This attitude can become quite natural and like second nature with some practice. Here...

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Bursting Myths about Bullying

Misconceptions about bullying have been rampant for decades. The "Self-Esteem Movement" that occurred during the 1980s helped to usher in many of the misconceptions-- As daytime talk shows fueled the notion that if youth had higher levels of self-esteem, bullying would not exist. Well, current research begs to differ. If we are truly going to address bullying, we must understand what it is and...

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Students learning

Students First: A Great Approach for the Newly-Adopted Learning Standards

If you have attended one of my classes or are a frequent reader of this blog, then you know that I am a very strong advocate for social and emotional learning (SEL). There is tons of research to support that social and emotional learning is fundamental to youth development and has a tremendous impact on academic achievement. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards fo...

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Keeping Up With The Latest Scoop!

Ok, so, I finally started a page! Hooray! Now, I'll be able to place all of the great resources that I come across, and want to share, in one place. There is a lot going on in the world of social and emotional learning, and I don't want any of you to miss a thing.  On the page, you'll be able to find lots of resources related to effective teaching strategies to maximize learning and en...

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Summertime is a Great Time to Learn Something New!

All week, K-12 teachers from the Chicago area filled our Extension office in Westchester to engage in a variety of professional development topics. With eager educators excited to share lots of great information with them, teachers engaged in workshops that focused on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), math games, engineering, animal science, bullying prevention, culturally responsiv...

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SEL: Not a Quick-Fix

As the school year winds down, some school administrators may be celebrating the strides made this year in the area of social and emotional learning (SEL). Perhaps they embarked on a successful school-wide initiative to integrate SEL throughout the building or maybe they spent this year acclimating all of their teachers to SEL. While celebrations may have commenced for some, disappointment may...

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Why is Culturally Responsive Teaching Currently Trending?

I was recently conversing with an acquaintance at a meeting about the importance of multicultural education being a part of the academic curriculum throughout the school year—not just on holidays that celebrate a specific culture, race, or ethnic group. As an example, teaching African American History or having students engage in lessons about Rosa Parks should not be confined to the month of F...

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Happy Children

Clap Along if You Feel Like Happiness is...

In honor of 'International Day of Happiness' and Pharrell Williams' wildly popular song, "Happy," check out Edutopia for ideas about how you can foster happiness throughout you...

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Valentine's Day = Perfect Day for Social & Emotional Learning

Valentine's Day is a perfect day to engage students in social and emotional learning activities.  As young people are participating in the exchange of valentine cards, kind gestures, and sweet treats, the moment is ripe for teaching about the importance of developing healthy relationships, fostering an attitude of gratitude, and expressing empathy.  For lessons, activities, and additio...

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Do You Have Teaching Presence?

If you have ever attended one of my SEL trainings for teachers, you have undoubtedly heard me talk about the importance of "teaching presence." Teaching presence is bringing all of the wonderful experiences, characteristics, and qualities that make you a successful teacher directly into your learning community. It is making special and unique connections to your students and helping them to con...

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Blk and White

SEL and The Fierce Urgency of Now

As I became captivated all over again by reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Beyond Vietnam" speech, I began to think about issues in today's society that need to be addressed with a similar level of passion and urgency. Naturally, I thought about the social and emotional needs of our children. I spend the majority of my days tal...

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kids on bus

Is SEL the Cure for School Violence?

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been an increase in research, media stories, town hall meetings and even blogs about thwarting the violence within our schools. As I was looking over several articles just before the holiday break (some written by notable researchers and scholars, and some written by educational bloggers, including a local Chicago resident),...

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Attitude of Gratitude

During a recent conversation with my mother, she commented about how quickly she felt the holiday season was upon us. She said that she hated how quickly it seemed to be passing by, and how she wished that she could bottle it up because people seem to be a bit kinder, gentler, and more grateful during this time of year. So, this got me to thinking... What if we cultivated this type of attitude...

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Nelson Mandela's Life was a Lesson in Social and Emotional Learning

With the recent news coverage, web postings, and conversations about the inspiring life that was lived by Rights Activist, Nelson Mandela, the time is ripe to engage students in discussions about social and emotional learning in the context of freedom, forgiveness, and acceptance.  Linking real-world events to SEL lessons is a perfect way to showcase what SEL is, teach essential skills, and demons...

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What is social and emotional learning?

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, social and emotional learning? What does it mean? What does it look like? If it were happening in a classroom, would you recognize it? I ask these questions quite often of teachers and parents who attend my SEL trainings. The responses run the gamut, but I typically hear, "I'm not sure," or "I think I'm doing it a little bit," or my personal favori...

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